The New Testament world of the first century was divided by caste, social status, and gender.
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It was a society in social turmoil. The concepts of equal rights, freedom, and human dignity were not the accepted norms.
Then Christianity burst upon the scene. It created a social revolution. Jesus’ teachings of equality, justice, concern for the poor, and respect for the marginalized appeared radical. At the same time, New Testament believers united around the core values [...]
John 17 contains Jesus’ great intercessory prayer. It reveals what was on His mind at that momentous hour of earth’s history.
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Read John 17:9-11, 20-24. What was Jesus’ heartfelt longing? Why was this so important? How did the disciples’ relationship to one another demonstrate genuine Christian faith? See Acts 4:32-33.
The “oneness,” or unity, of the disciples prepared their hearts for the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power. Christ’s prayer for His church was fulfilled. They surrendered [...]
Read for This Week’s Study: John 17:9-11, 20-24; 1 Cor. 12:12-18; Acts 4:32-33, 1:8, 15:1-31; Matt. 18:16-20.
Memory Text: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV).
Unity is an essential ingredient of revival. Conflict, division, and strife do not create an environment for nurturing revival. [...]
“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us: ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve [...]
Alexei scanned the classified ads of his local newspaper in Siberia, Russia.
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He wanted to be sure that his ad for home improvements was attractive and his prices competitive. His eyes fell on the religious section of classified ads. The ads there offered to tell people’s fortunes or read their palms. So many ads for Satan, and not one for Christ, Alexei thought. He grabbed a paper and scribbled the words, “I will tell you about [...]
Confession lances the boil of guilt and allows the poisonous pus of sin to drain. Confession is healing in many ways.
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It opens our hearts to receive God’s grace. Through confession we accept the forgiveness that Christ freely offers us from the Cross. Confession is healing because it allows us to receive grace. Confession also breaks down barriers between us and other people. It heals relationships.
Read Psalm 32:1-8. What does this teach us about confession and [...]
There are some very specific examples in the Bible of people who sought repentance but were not forgiven by God. They wept.
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They were sorrowful. They confessed their sin but were not forgiven.
Read the accounts of Pharaoh, Balaam, Esau, and Judas in Exodus 12:29-32, Numbers 22:32-35, Hebrews 12:17, and Matthew 27:4. What common thread do you see running through each story in regard to repentance and/or confession?
One phrase in Hebrews 12:17, NKJV , sums it up well. Speaking of Esau, the passage says [...]
What spiritual principles do we learn from Leviticus 5:5; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 1:16-18; and Acts 26:19-20 regarding the nature of true repentance and confession?
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Genuine repentance is always accompanied by confession of specific sins. The Holy Spirit does not give us vague feelings of guilt. He convicts us of our definite shortcomings.
“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be [...]
How does the apostle Paul describe true repentance? 2 Cor. 7:9-11.
Repentance is a God-initiated sorrow for sin. It also includes a decision to forsake whatever specific sins that the Holy Spirit brings to mind (Ezek. 14:6, Zech. 1:4). Genuine repentance does not lead Christians into a state of deep depression because of their sinful natures or deeds. “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10, NKJV). It leads us, instead, to focus on Jesus’ righteousness, not our sinfulness. It produces a “diligence” in [...]
During the weeks before Pentecost, the disciples earnestly sought God in prayer.
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Acts 1:14 says that they were in “one accord in prayer and supplication.” This experience of “one accord” reveals a strong unity and harmony among Christ’s followers that would not have been possible without repentance and confession. Prayer and confession prepared them for what was going to come.
Read Acts 5:30-32. What important points can we take from what Peter said here?
Peter makes two critical points. [...]